Samsung Galaxy S3
Google made a raft of announcements at its annual I/O developer conference in San Francisco tonight, including the new Jelly Bean mobile operating system, the Nexus 7 tablet which showcases it, a spherical media PC called the Q, and some more info on Google Glass.
CEO Larry Page was a no show as he had lost his voice, so instead an army of Google employees took turns in taking to the stage to discuss various aspects of Google’s new gear.
Google Play now apparently has 600,000 apps on it. There was a lot of info about how in-app purchase and other developer focussed things are coming, but that’s of little benefit to the consumer.
You may be interested to know you can now buy movies as well as rent them on Google Play, as well as entire TV series and magazines.
After a few boasts around how well Android is doing, including the fact there are now 400 million devices running the OS, and a million new ones are activated every day, it got onto the main announcements.
Android 4.1 Jelly Bean
One of the main principles of the latest Android version will be how smooth it runs, codified through something called ‘Project Butter’.
Apparently, while tapping away on your mobile it will anticipate where your finger will be next, in order create a ‘smoother touch response.’
It will also start ramping up the CPU to higher modes of processing as soon as you tough the screen. Whether this will effect battery life remains to be seen.
Apparently it’s the ‘fastest and smoother version of android yet,’ so Google claims.
In order to facilitate this, a number of features have been added or tweaked. The keyboard learns intelligently overtime, which should mean less mistypes, and it’s now easier to shuffle widgets around.
A new UI is much more integrated into search, and awful lot was made of the voice interaction capabilities.
Users can now dictate into apps offline as well, while new cameras options mean you can swipe images to file or delete them.
Notifications have had an update – if you've had an email, missed call or text you can read it straight on the homescreen.
Android Beam, the NFC enabled connecting tech, now allows you to send photos and link with speakers ‘in a second’.
Google Now was also launched, which is essentially about giving specified info on a bespoke basis. It will inform you of a faster route if there’s traffic, or when the next bus is. Google Places can now show what’s going on around you, for instance what restaurants are best known for as you walk past them. It will even tell you went to leave to make it for a meeting.
Jelly bean will be available Open Source as of mid July, and the SDK is available now.
The Nexus 7 tablet is built by Asus as a showcase product for Jelly Bean.
It has a 1280 x 800 display with a Tegra 3 chipset, quad-core CPU, 12-core GPU, Front-facing camera, wi-fi, Bluetooth, GPS, gyroscope and accelerometer.
It’s light at 340 grams, and apparently can handle 9 hours of video playback.
Described as ‘ideal for reading books’, it seems more pitched against Kindle than the iPad.
There was a very impressive demo of a couple of games called Horn and Dead Trigger, and Google boasts you have to go to a dedicated games console to get a better level of graphics.
Perhaps the most surprising thing is the relatively low price. The 8GB version is £159, while the 16GB is £199.
While a champion Jelly Bean tablet was rumoured, a total surprise came in the form of the Nexus Q.
It’s a spherical computer essentially, designed to sit in your front room and pull media from the cloud.
It has NFC connections and a built in amplifier, and a host of connectors to allow it to be plugged into TVs or speakers.
Onboard is an OMAP 4460 processor, optical and digital audio plus micro-HDMI outputs, dual-band wi-fi and Ethernet, plus Bluetooth.
On stage the Google employees had fun taking it in turns to add songs to a joint playlist from their respective phones.
It will cost you $299, will only be available in the US to start with. It will ship in July, with pre-orders starting today.
During a presentation regarding Google Plus, in which we were told there are now 250 million accounts now active, another team of presenters hijacked the stage to update us on Google Glass.
The mission statement of Google Glass essentially is to provide a pair of discreet glasses which feed you or allow you to upload data and images from and to the web as you need it.
In the demonstration, a group logged into a Google Plus hangout before jumping out of a plane, landing, grabbing a bike and hurtling to join the Googlers on stage. All the while we got an Aliens style view of their view.
A few details emerged – it has a camera (obviously) a processor and ‘a lot of memory to store information.’ It has a touchpad on the side for input, a microphones and a speaker, a gyro, accelerometer and compass. It also has multiple radios for wireless connectivity.
It was only available for pre-order to developers at the show, and only for those from the US. It costs $1,500, and will be shipping early next year.